NEWARK, N.J. - New Jersey on Friday hit Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy’s goal of vaccinating 4.7 million people.
Murphy announced what he cast as a milestone at University Hospital in Newark, where the state’s first COVID-19 vaccine was administered about six months ago.
Murphy had said the figure amounted to 70% of the adult population, but his office said the percentage has dropped because the state’s population grew during the most recent census. The vaccination figures also include those under 18 since vaccinations for youths have begun being administered.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed the state with 66% of its population vaccinated as of early Friday, among the highest rates in the county.
Vermont and Massachusetts have surpassed the 70% level. Connecticut, Maine and Rhode Island were nearing it heading into the weekend, according to the CDC.
President Joe Biden has set a nationwide goal of vaccinating 70% of adults with at least one shot before July 4.
New Jersey has exceeded that goal, with 77% of adults having at least one jab.
Murphy has said the push will continue. He’s introduced a number of incentives, including partnerships with breweries and vineyards offering a drink to those who present their vaccination card, along with annual season passes for state parks.
"We are not close to stopping," he said.
While New Jersey has surpassed the governor’s goal, the percentage of the state’s roughly 9 million people who are vaccinated stands at about 54%.
Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli said state efforts to get pockets of people who aren’t vaccinated will continue, though there is no new goal.
"We will not rest till no doors are opened to this unwelcome guest — COVID-19," she said.
The swell in vaccinated residents has led New Jersey to relax nearly all of the measure Murphy put in place beginning in March 2020. Just two weeks ago, he ended the public health emergency except for about a dozen executive orders. The number of new cases, hospitalizations and the rate of spread have been dropping for months.
New Jersey was an early hotspot last year, with 23,667 people succumbing to the disease. Now, Murphy says the outbreak is almost entirely among those who have not been vaccinated.
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